Angelique Arnauld
       Abbess, Port Royale

 Cornelius Jansen,
   Bishop of Ypres

The following is adapted from the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

JANSEN, Cornelius Otto (1585–1638) (Jansenius), the author of the Augustinus. (He is to be distinguished from his uncle, Cornelius Jansen the Elder (1510–76), who was Bishop of Ghent from 1564 - confirmed by Pius V, 1568). After two years in the Collège du Faucon at Louvain, he migrated in 1604 to Paris. Here he met Saint-Cyran, with whom, at Bayonne and Champré, he spent the years 1612–17 in unremitting study.

In these years, as his later correspondence with Saint-Cyran reveals, he conceived an elaborate plan of concerted action against the theologians of the Counter-Reformation.

In 1617 he became the director of a newly founded college at Louvain, and in 1626–7 defended at Madrid the cause of the University of Louvain against the aspersions of the Jesuits. In 1628 he began to write the Augustinus, for which purpose he read the whole of St Augustine’s writings ten times and the anti-Pelagian writings thirty; but it was not published till 1640, after his death. In 1636 he was consecrated Bp. of Ypres.

J. Orcibal, Correspondance de Jansénius (‘Les Origines du jansénisme’, 1; Bibliothèque de la RHE Revue d’Histoire Ecclésiastique (Louvain, 1900 ff.)25; 1947). Id., Jansénius d’Ypres (1585–1638) (Études Augustiniennes, 1989). E. J. M. van Eijl (ed.), L’Image de C. Jansénius jusqu’à la fin du XVIIIe siècle: Actes du Colloque, Louvain, 7–9 novembre 1985 (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium, 79; 1987). H. de Lubac, SJ, Augustinisme et théologie moderne (Théologie, 63; 1965), pp. 49–112; Eng. tr. (1969), pp. 34–96. J. Carreyre in DTC Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, ed. A. Vacant, E. Mangenot, and É. Amann (15 vols., 1903–50); Tables Générales by B. Loth and A. Michel (3 vols., 1951–72).8 (pt. 1; 1924), cols. 319–30 (Life, with bibl.) and 330–448 (full analysis of the Augustinus). See also bibls. to augustinus and jansenism.

JANSENISM. Dogmatically, Jansenism is summed up in five propositions, derived in substance from the Augustinus (1640) of C. O. Jansen, and condemned as heretical by the Sorbonne (1649) and Innocent X (1653). The sense of these propositions is

1. that without a special grace from God the performance of His commandments is impossible to men, and

2. that the operation of grace is irresistible; and hence, that man is the victim of either a natural or a supernatural determinism, limited only by not being violently coercive.

This theological pessimism was expressed in the general harshness and moral rigorism of the movement.

The first generation of French Jansenists were all disciples of Saint-Cyran (Duvergier), Jansen’s friend and collaborator. This party of ‘Cyranists’, which included the convent of Port-Royal, was already in existence in 1638. After Saint-Cyran’s death in 1643, Antoine Arnauld succeeded him as its leader, and in De la fréquente communion (1643), La Théologie morale des Jésuites (1643), and two Apologies pour M. Jansénius (1644–5) defined the directions of the movement. These were

1. the defence of St Augustine’s theology of grace, as interpreted by Jansen, against Molinism;

2. a rigorist tendency in all matters of ecclesiastical discipline;

3. hostility to Probabilism.

The unifying characteristic of the movement was antagonism to the Jesuits. (2) and (3) remained unchanged throughout the whole history of Jansenism, and were exhibited in all its principal monuments, from the Lettres provinciales (1656–7) of Pascal onwards.


In 1653 five propositions were condemned by Innocent X in the bull ‘Cum Occasione’ as summarizing the Jansenist position.

The five errors of Jansen on Grace condemned in Cum occasione are:

1. “Some of God's commandments are impossible to just men who wish and strive to keep them, considering the powers they actually have; the grace by which these precepts may become possible is also wanting to them.”

2. “In the state of fallen nature no one ever resists interior grace.”

3. “In order to merit or demerit, in the state of fallen nature, we must be free from all external constraint, but not from interior necessity.”

4. “The Semi-Pelagians admitted the necessity of interior preventing grace for all acts, even for the beginning of faith; but they fell into heresy in pretending that this grace is such that man may either follow or resist it.”

5. “It is Semi-Pelagian to say that Christ died or shed His blood for all men.”

The supporters of the movement sought to evade the condemnation by their distinction of ‘fact’ (fait) and ‘law’ (droit).

The five propositions were admitted to be heretical, but in ‘fact’ they were declared unrepresentative of Jansen’s doctrine, which the Jansenists held to be a fair presentation of the teaching of St Augustine. After this distinction had been disallowed by Alexander VII (1656), attempts were made to compel the Jansenists to sign a formulary embodying the Papal anathema. In 1668 they were persuaded into a qualified submission, but the movement continued to gain sympathizers, particularly among the Oratorians and Maurists.

P. Quesnel’s Réflexions morales (1693), in which some tenets of Jansenism were reaffirmed, was condemned in the bull ‘Unigenitus’ (1713). The bull was not accepted by the Jansenists, who consequently had to face sporadic persecution in France during much of the 18th cent. In their opposition to the Jesuits, however, they found support among the Gallican members of the Parlements who in 1762 took steps to have the Jesuits expelled from France.


In the Netherlands, where many prominent Jansenist clerics took refuge, Jansenism was tolerated or encouraged by successive Vicars Apostolic, and in 1723 the Dutch Jansenists nominated for themselves a schismatic Bishop of Utrecht (who became the leader of the Old Catholics).

Eberhardt ch. 51 Jansenist Revival : sec. c. Schismatic Jansenism

Jansenist refugees from royal prosecution in France had repeatedly received asylum in Protestant Holland. Here they were successful in attracting the indulgent sympathy of the Catholic vicars-apostolic, Neercassel (1663-86) and Peter Codde (1686-1702) . The latter was finally deposed by Clement XI in 1702, but continued to claim jurisdiction until his death in 1710 at Rome. This pretense was encouraged by his Jansenist vicars-general in the Netherlands, who refused to recognize Codde’s Catholic successors, and obtained ordination for their clergy from the French Appellants.

Formal schism began in 1723 when seven Jansenist clerics constituted themselves into the “Chapter of Utrecht” and elected their vicarcapitular, Cornelius Steenhoven, as “Archbishop of Utrecht.” They prevailed upon a suspended French bishop, Varlet, formerly of New Orleans and missioned to Persia, to consecrate Steenhoven. Both bishops were then excommunicated by Rome. [...]

The Utrecht schism did receive a new lease on life after 1870 with the defection of Dr. Doellinger’s German “Old Catholics” from the decisions of the Vatican Council. The “Old Catholics” accepted orders from Utrecht and the combined movement reached a zenith of some one hundred thousand adherents during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Since that time, however, it has declined in comparative importance, although the Jansenist prelate of Utrecht is accorded a sort of honorary primacy since 1889 over the various autonomous “Old Catholic” bodies in different national jurisdictions.

In Tuscany, chiefly owing to the anti-Papal policy of the Grand Duke Leopold, Jansenism became so strong that the local Synod of Pistoia (1786) promulgated one of the most comprehensive statements of Jansenist positions that exist. After Napoleon’s Concordat of 1801, French Jansenism survived only as the secret conviction of a few Catholics and as the guiding spirit of a few pious institutions.

The principal primary docs. concerning Jansenism and the opposition to it are ed. by L. Ceyssens, OFM, lately in conjunction with S. de Munter, OFM: those covering the period 1640–3 (Bibliothèque de la RHE 31; 1957); 1644–53 (Bibliothèque de l’Institut historique Belge de Rome, 9–10; 1961–2); 1654–60 (ibid. 12–13; 1963–5); 1661–72 (Bibliothèque de la RHE 45; 1968); 1673–6 (Bibliothèque de I’Institut historique Belge de Rome, 17; 1968); 1677–9 (Bibliothèque de la RHE, 59; 1974); and 1680–82 (Bibliothèque de l’Institut historique Belge de Rome, 19; 1974). The ‘Five Propositions’ are conveniently pr. in Denzinger and Hünermann (37th edn., 1991), pp. 614 f. (nos. 2001–5); Eng. tr. in Bettenson (2nd edn., 1963), pp. 379 f.

There has been an immense lit. from the outbreak of the controversy onwards. Modern studies incl. A. Gazier, Histoire générale du mouvement janséniste (2 vols., 1922); E. Préclin, Les Jansénistes du XVIIIe siècle et la constitution civile du clergé (1928); L. Ceyssens, OFM, Jansenistica: Studien in verband met Geschiedenis van het Jansenisme (4 vols., Malines, 1950–62); id., Jansenistica Minora (1–10, Malines, 1951–68; 11–12, Amsterdam, 1973–5); cf., for details of arts. by Ceyssens, bibl. in Antonianum, 53 (1978), pp. 194–266 and in J. van Bavel and M. Schrama (eds.), Jansénius et le Jansénisme dans les Pay-Bas: Mélanges Lucien Ceyssens (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium, 56; 1982), pp. 9 f., incl. his important art. ‘L’Authenticité des cinq propositions condamnées de Jansenius’, Antonianum, 55 (1980), pp. 368–424; P. de Leturia, SJ, and others, Nuove ricerche storiche sul giansenismo (Analecta Gregoriana, 71; 1954); L. Cognet, Le Jansénisme (1961). J. Orcibal and A. Barnes, Les Origines du jansénisme (5 vols., 1947–62). J. Orcibal, ‘Qu’est-ce le Jansénisme?’, Cahiers de l’Association Internationale des Études françaises, nos. 3–5 (1953), pp. 39–53. A. Adam, Du mysticisme à la révolte: Les Jansénistes du XVIIe siècle (1968). A. Sedgwick, Jansenism in Seventeenth-Century France (Charlottesville, Va., 1977). J. Carreyre, Le Jansénisme durant la régence, 1715–23 (Bibliothèque de la RHE, 2–4; 1929–33). D. [K.] Van Kley, The Jansenists and the Expulsion of the Jesuits from France 1757–1765 (New Haven, Conn., and London, 1975); id., The Damiens Affairs and the Unravelling of the Ancien Régime 1750–1770 (Princeton, NJ [1984]), passim. A. C. Jemolo, Il giansenismo in Italia prima della rivoluzione (Bari, 1928). É. Appolis, Les Jansénistes espagnols (Bordeaux [1966]). B. Neveu, L’Erreur et son Juge: Remarques sur les censures doctrinales à l’époque moderne (Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici, Serie Studi, 19: Naples, 1993), esp. 505–746. W. Doyle, Jansenism (2000; introductory). Bremond, 4. List of Jansenist works in L. Patouillet (ed.), Dictionnaire des livres jansénistes (4 vols., Antwerp, 1752). L. Willaert, SJ, Bibliotheca Janseniana Belgica: Répertoire des imprimés concernant les controverses théologiques en relation avec le jansénisme dans les Pays-Bas catholiques et le Pays de Liège aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Bibliothèque de la Faculté de Philosophie et Lettres de Namur, 4, 5, 12; 1949–51). J. Carreyre in DTC 8 (pt. 1; 1924), cols. 318–529, s.v.; J. M. Gres-Gayer in NCE (2nd edn.), 7 (2003), pp. 715–20, s.v. See also bibl. to port-royal.


Bettenson H. Bettenson (ed.), Documents of the Christian Church (World’s Classics, London, 1943). [Also pub., with different pagination, in Galaxy Edition, New York, 1947]

NCE New Catholic Encyclopedia (14 vols. + index, New York, etc., 1967, + 3 supplementary vols., 16–18; 1974–89).




Port-Royal, Convent of, Jansenist centre. A convent of Cistercian nuns was originally founded at Port-Royal, a marshy site some 18 miles SW of Paris (hence ‘Port-Royal-des-Champs’), in 1204. The appointment in 1602 of (Jacqueline Marie) Angélique Arnauld as abbess at the age of 10 was the prelude to its emergence as a house of major importance. Converted (by a Capuchin friar) to a new view of her responsibilities in 1608, she undertook far-reaching reforms and began to attract numerous novices (including several members of her own huge family). Owing to the unhealthy conditions, in 1625 the community reluctantly moved into Paris to a new house in the Faubourg St Jacques (‘Port-Royal-de-Paris’). Under the direction of Sébastien Zamet, Bp. of Langres (Bp. 1615–55), in 1627 the community was removed from the jurisdiction of Cîteaux and formed an autonomous Ordre du St Sacrement, adding a large red cross to their white habit to signify their independence. The initial spirituality of Port-Royal was largely Oratorian, but in 1635 Zamet handed over direction to Saint-Cyran, Jansen’s associate; his influence then became decisive, and was zealously maintained after his death in 1643 by Antoine Arnauld, who became spokesman for what came to be called Jansenism. After 1637 some of Saint-Cyran’s converts came to live near the convent (at first in Paris, then in the derelict Port-Royal-des-Champs) as ‘Solitaires’, without taking vows, but devoting themselves to the interests of the nuns, the education of a few boys (including Racine), and literary pursuits. By 1648 their labours had rendered Port-Royal-des-Champs habitable enough to receive some of the nuns, and henceforward the two houses existed with a single conventual organization, increasingly openly and militantly associated with the Jansenist cause. Blaise Pascal, though never a ‘Solitaire’, was closely linked with Port-Royal, and his sister, Jacqueline, was professed there as a nun. Among the most famous ‘Solitaires’ were Antoine Singlin, Claude Lancelot, and Le Maître de Sacy.

When in 1661 the nuns of Port-Royal refused to subscribe the condemnation of Jansenism, certain measures affecting the prosperity of the convent were taken by the civil power and in 1664 a real persecution began; but very few of the nuns were persuaded to sign the ‘formulary’ until after the Peace of the Church (1668). In 1669 the two houses were legally separated, Port-Royal-de-Paris being given over to the nuns who had submitted before 1668, while the Jansenist majority were established in Port-Royal-des-Champs. A period of prosperity followed, cut short in 1679, after the recrudescence of the Jansenist controversy, when the convent was forbidden to take boarders or receive any more novices. Subsequently further measures were taken to the prejudice of its temporalities. In 1705 Clement XI published a bull condemning those who, in signing the anti-Jansenist formulary of Alexander VII, used mental reservations: the nuns of Port-Royal refused to accept this new definition, and, after a short persecution, were finally dispersed in 1709. The buildings were subsequently destroyed, and the site desecrated (1710–13).

A. de Dion (ed.), Cartulaire de l’abbaye de Porrois au diocèse de Paris plus connue sous son nom mystique Port-Royal, 1: 1204–80 [all pub.] (1903). The fundamental modern crit. work is that of C. A. Sainte-Beuve, Port-Royal (5 vols., 1840–59, and index, 1861; modern edn. by M. Leroy, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 93, 99, 107; 1953–5). The more important earlier works incl. [C. Clémencet, OSB] Histoire générale de Port-Royal (10 vols., Amsterdam, 1755–7); id., Histoire littéraire de Port-Royal, ed. [R. F. W.] Guettée (Paris, 1868); J. Racine (the poet), Abrégé de l’histoire de Port-Royal (1742–54; ed. A. Gazier, 1908); and C. Beard, Port-Royal (2 vols., 1861). C. Gazier, Histoire du monastère de Port-Royal (1929); id., Les Belles Amies de Port-Royal (1930); id., Ces Messieurs de Port-Royal: Documents inédits (1932), and other works of this author. J. Laporte, La Doctrine de Port-Royal (1923; 2nd edn., enlarged, 2 vols., Bibliothèque d’Histoire de la Philosophie, 1951–2). L. Cognet, La Mère Angélique et son temps, 1: La Réforme de Port-Royal 1591–1618 (1950). F. E. Weaver, The Evolution of the Reform of Port-Royal: From the Rule of Cîteaux to Jansenism [1978]; id., La Contre-Réforme et les Constitutions de Port-Royal (2002). F. Delforge, Les petites écoles de Port-Royal 1637–1660 (1985). A. Maulvault, Répertoire alphabétique des personnes et des choses de Port-Royal (1902). L. Rea, The Enthusiasts of Port-Royal (1912). Bremond, esp. vol. 4. E. Préclin in Fliche and Martin, 19 (pt. 1; 1955), pp. 193–219. E. E. Weaver in Dict. Sp. 12 (pt. 2; 1986), cols. 1931–52; L. Cognet and J. M. Gres-Gayer in NCE (2nd edn.), 11 (2003), pp. 523–5, both s.v. See also bibl. to jansenism.


Bremond H. Bremond, Histoire littéraire du sentiment religieux en France depuis la fin des guerres de religion jusqu’à nos jours (11 vols., 1916–33, + index, 1936).

Sp. Spanish.




Saint-Cyran, Abbé de (1581–1643), Jean Duvergier de Hauranne, one of the authors of Jansenism. A protégé of Justus Lipsius at the Jesuit College at Louvain, and then a fellow-student at Paris (1604–10) and Bayonne (1611–17) with C. Jansen, with whom he made a close friendship, he was attracted to St Augustine’s writings, the theology of which he preferred to the prevailing scholasticism. In 1617 he settled for a time at Poitiers, where he was secretary to the Bishop, de la Rocheposay. In 1620 he was created commendatory Abbot of Saint-Cyran and thenceforward lived mainly in Paris, seeking out all the chief personalities of the time (Vincent de Paul, J.-J. Olier, G. Tarisse, P. de Bérulle). He made it his object to reform Catholicism on Augustinian lines, largely in the hope of defeating Protestantism with its own weapons. From 1623 he became closely associated with the influential Arnauld family and with Port-Royal, and from 1633 as spiritual counsellor of the convent exercised an immense religious influence. Between 1617 and 1635 he was the recipient of a long series of letters from Jansen (pub. Louvain, 1654). His power led Richelieu to consider him a dangerous character, and from 1638 until 1643 after Richelieu’s death he was incarcerated in the fortress of Vincennes, where he wrote his Lettres chrétiennes et spirituelles (pub. 1645). He was held in great veneration by later Jansenists, who looked up to him as a martyr. His writings include Somme des fautes … du P. Garasse (1626), an attack on the Jesuits; Petrus Aurelius de Hierarchia Ecclesiastica (1631), a plea for the rights of the episcopate against the Papacy, partly based on M. Antonio de Dominis’s De Republica Christiana; and Théologie familière (1642).

C. Lancelot, Mémoires touchant la vie de M. de S. Cyran (2 vols., Cologne, 1738). J. Lafferière, Étude sur Jean Duvergier de Hauranne, abbé de Saint-Cyran (Louvain, 1912). J. Orcibal, Les Origines du jansénisme (Bibliothèque de la RHE, 16), 2 and 3, Jean Duvergier de Hauranne, abbé de Saint-Cyran et son temps, 4, Lettres inédites de Jean Duvergier de Hauranne, abbé de Saint-Cyran, ed. A. Barnes, and 5, La Spiritualité de Saint-Cyran avec ses écrits de piété inédits (1947–62). J. Orcibal in DHGE 14 (1960), cols. 1216–41, s.v. ‘Duvergier de Hauranne (Jean-Ambroise)’; B. Chédozeau in Dict. Sp. 14 (1990), cols. 140–50, s.v. See also bibl. to jansenism and port-royal.





Quesnel, Pasquier (1634–1719), French Jansenist. Educated by the Jesuits, he studied philosophy and theology at the Sorbonne and entered the Congregation of the Oratory in 1657, where he was soon entrusted with the direction of students and became the author of a number of spiritual books. In 1672 he published Abrégé de la morale de l’Évangile, with a commendatory preface by the Bp. of Châlons-sur-Marne; its subsequent editions, expanded and revised, became famous under the title of Le Nouveau Testament en français, avec des réflexions morales sur chaque verset, usually called Réflexions morales. As against the formalized methods of spirituality in the manuals, the work emphasized the value of the close study of the Scriptures in increasing true devotion. In 1675 he published a scholarly edition of the works of Pope Leo I which, however, was placed on the Index owing to the Gallican theories developed in the notes. In 1681 he was removed to Orléans on the charge of upholding Jansenist views. Three years later he refused to subscribe to an anti-Jansenist formula imposed by his superiors and went to Brussels, where he lived together with A. Arnauld. In 1703 he was imprisoned by the Abp. of Malines at the instigation of Philip V, but escaped and fled to the Netherlands the following year. His subsequent life was filled with defences of himself and his Réflexions, which, commended by the Abp. of Paris, Cardinal L. A. de Noailles, went through many editions, but was condemned by a brief of Clement XI in 1708 and, five years later, by the bull ‘Unigenitus’. Among his doctrines condemned by the bull are the theses

that no grace is given outside the Church,

that grace is irresistible,

that without grace man is incapable of any good,

and that all acts of a sinner, even prayer and attendance at Mass, are sins.

Quesnel never accepted the condemnation, and though he asked for and received the Last Sacraments, he appealed to a future General Council for his vindication.

L. Batterel, Mémoires domestiques pour servir à l’histoire de l’Oratoire (ed. A. M. P. Ingold, 5 vols., 1902–11), with list of Quesnel’s writings, 4, pp. 424–93. Correspondance de Pasquier Quesnel, ed. A. Le Roy (2 vols., 1900). Causa Quesnelliana (Brussels, 1704; docs. ed. by order of the Abp. of Malines). A. Le Roy, Un Janséniste en exil (1900; with selection of Quesnel’s Letters). J. A. G. Tans, Pasquier Quesnel et les Pays-Bas: Correspondance, publiée avec introduction et annotations (Publications de l’Institut Français d’Amsterdam, Maison Descartes, 6; 1960); id. and H. Schmitz du Moulin, Pasquier Quesnel devant la Congrégation de l’Index: Correspondance avec Francesco Barberini et mémoires sur la mise à l’Index de son édition des œuvres de saint Léon publiés avec introduction et annotations (International Archives of the History of Ideas, 71; 1974); idd., La Correspondance de Pasquier Quesnel: Inventaire et index analytique (Bibliothèque de la RHE, 74, 77, etc.; 1989 ff.). L. Ceyssens, ‘Les Papiers de Quesnel saisis à Bruxelles et transportés à Paris en 1703 et 1704’, RHE 44 (1949), pp. 508–51. J. A. G. Tans, ‘Port-Royal entre le réveil spirituel et le drame gallican: le rôle de Pasquier Quesnel’, Lias, 4 (1977) pp. 99–114. Id. and L. Ceyssens, ‘Pasquier Quesnel (1634–1719). Autour de l’Unigenitus’, Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, 59 (1983), pp. 201–66, repr. in idd., Autour de l’Unigenitus (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium, 56; 1987), pp. 583–648. J. Carreyre in DTC 13 (pt. 2; 1937), cols. 1460–535, s.v. ‘Quesnel et le Quesnellisme’; J. A. G. Tans in Dict. Sp. 12 (pt. 2; 1986), cols. 2732–46, s.v.


RHE Revue d’Histoire Ecclésiastique (Louvain, 1900 ff.).

Dict. Dictionnaire de Spiritualité, ed. M. Viller, SJ, and others (16 vols. + index, 1937–95).




Mental visualization of Biblical Scenes

Step-by-step reflection leading to discernment

Examen concerning sin required throughout life




Non-discursive meditation

Resting in the presence of God

Sin “impossible” in highest stages

[Molinos condemned by Innocent XI in Coelestis Pastor - 19 Nov. 1687]



Penitents given “benefit of the doubt”

Lesser-held opinion may nonetheless be “probable”

[condemned by Pope Alexander VII (1666, 1667) and more forcefully by Pope Innocent XI (1679)]



Strict ethical standards and requirement of repentance/penance:

Confessor acts solely on what is certain – always in favor of precept of law

Strict rigorism (“tutiorism” condemned by Pope Alexander VIII in 1690 (Denzinger 2303)


of the

The soul cooperates with God

(Pelagianism condemned by Augustine)


God has predestined both the elect and the damned.
Without grace, no meritorious act is possible 

(Double predestination condemned in Trent Decree on Justification, canons 15 and 17)


Missionary Activity



Monastic Enclosure







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